A Secondary Analysis of Growing Up in Ireland

Data on Educational Experiences and ‎Outcomes for Children with Special Educational Needs ‎


2014: The first report was published by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), and is available here.

2018: The second report was published on the 26th March 2018.

The full report is available here.

The executive summary is available here.

This study used the Growing Up in Ireland database for the child cohort at ages 9 and 13, and was ‎carried out by the Centre in collaboration with colleagues from DCU Institute of Education. The study team included Jude Cosgrove, Caroline McKeown, and Peter Archer from the ERC, in conjunction with Joseph Travers, Zita Lysaght, Órla Ní Bhroin, from DCU.

The aims of the secondary analysis were to:‎

‎1.‎    Provide new evidence to help us understand more clearly how children with special ‎educational needs, and specific identifiable subgroups within this cohort if possible, ‎are faring at school in terms of:‎

  • Outcomes which relate to academic attainment/ achievement and expectations in ‎relation to same
  • Participation in and engagement with school and learning, and their learning ‎progress and expectations in relation to same
  • Independence skills, self-esteem, well-being at school and relationships with ‎teachers and peers.‎

‎2.‎    Identify and analyse the factors influencing these experiences and both formal and ‎less formal educational outcomes.‎

‎3.‎    Identify potential implications for educational policy and or practice arising from the ‎analysis.‎

In its call for tender, the NCSE noted that, despite significant investment to support children with special educational needs over the past decade, there is only limited evidence relating to the engagement, progress and outcomes of these pupils. It further noted that a report published by the NCSE (Douglas et al., 2012) made a number of recommendations, one of which focused on the need for further empirical research on pupil outcomes in the Irish context. This perceived need informs the key objective of both phases of this study.

Work on the second phase of the study commenced in September 2014. The aims of the second phase, in addition to those above, were to:

• revisit the classification scheme in the light of any changes in questions asked in wave two regarding SEN, special class location and other issues;

• match data between the two waves and compare children’s outcomes for each wave and progress achieved (using the framework for the first phase of the study);

• track transitions to post-primary school types of the GUI children and how they have settled in to post-primary school; and

• identify the extent to which the needs of the GUI cohort have remained stable or changed between the two waves.